Gov. Scott Walker Tuesday gave his first state of the state address since being re-elected in November, and it received mixed reviews from local legislators.
Click here to read the entire transcript of the 2015 State of the State Address.
The bottom line: local Republican Legislators loved Walker’s focus on reducing property taxes, local control over school curriculum decisions and making state government smaller, but local Democrats panned the speech saying that not enough key issues were addressed.
Walker said in his speech that he wants state Legislators to nix the requirement that schools have to implement Common Core, a set of federal standards that sets goals for what students should learn at each grade level.
“No need for bureaucrats or politicians to make that choice—I trust parents,” Walker said. “Give them access to objective information and they will make the choice that is best for their children….Going forward, I want to eliminate any requirement to use Common Core.”
Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Caledonia), who represents the 62nd Assembly District, said he was glad to see Walker call for parents and school districts to have the ability to have local control over curriculum decisions.
“Parents and school districts should have say in curriculum decisions,” Weatherston said. “One curriculum is not right for everybody.”
Weatherston also liked the points Walker made about reducing taxes, offering job training and reducing the size of government. However, he would have liked to have heard a little more detail on how Walker plans to merge several state agencies. Walker talked about merging the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, but he didn’t name the other agencies he wanted to see merge.
Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) said Walker’s speech did “little to address Wisconsin’s middle class,” and Sen. Bob Wirch, who represents the 22nd District, said he was disappointed with Walker’s address.
“It (the speech) seemed more concerned with how voters in Iowa might feel about the federal government and foreign policy than it did about Wisconsin,” Mason said.
Sen. Bob Wirch, who agreed with Mason that Walker sounded like he was running for President, said he was “disappointed.”
“I didn’t hear much tonight about the very real problems we’re facing and the issues our families are concerned about – things like raising the minimum wage; protecting neighborhood schools for our children and grandchildren; making higher education more affordable; fixing our battered roads; and getting our friends and neighbors back to work in good, family-supporting jobs,” he said in a statement.
But, Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) said Walker was concise about what he wants to accomplish within the budget, including reducing property taxes.
“I’m encouraged by the numbers I’m seeing with the projections with fiscal year surplus, the jobs numbers and the trend going upward,” Wanggaard said.
Wanggaard would also support legislation that would nix the Common Core requirement because he thinks curriculum decisions should be made locally.
“I would rather see local stakeholders make decisions,” he said.
Wanggaard’s take on Walker’s speech was positive, but he said there were times that he looked over to the other side of the isle and he was discouraged by seeing the Democrats not applauding the positive things happening in the state.
“Who cares where a good idea comes from,” he said. “I think we miss out on an opportunity when we don’t honor the good things happening in our state. Businesses are moving back to Wisconsin and our numbers are improving.”